New brevet ride: The 300
The moment I decided that I was going to attempt doing a 200 brevet I thought it was going to be something hard to accomplish, really hard. I even had serious doubts that I was going to make it.
But I did, and I felt so incredibly well, both during the brevet and afterwards, that when the 300 was announced I said to myself - "Why not?". Suddendly, the idea of attempting the 300 hundred got sticked to my mind and I wanted to do it. I checked the route several times, it was tough (look at the elevation gain) but it was a damned lovely one! I already knew some of those roads, and I was quite sure it was going to be an amazing ride.
So, I talked about the idea at home, with dolo, and she encouraged me to do it - "I think it is a good idea but, do you think you are ready for something like that?" - Her words just clicked me, I was going to do it - "Sure I am!" - I replied, and I was damn sure I was going to make it.
The next few weeks I did stick to my usual riding plans, I did nothing special in preparation for the 300. I did read a bit more about longer brevets though, and I got some stuff I would need for it (better front light, new frame bag, powerbank, tools bottle...).
Deciding how to pack everything I would need was one of the most challenging parts of it. I did a first test ride to test the front lights, riding at the same hour in the night that I expected to be back by the end of the brevet (and kept riding for some time in the dark, as I had zero experience there). Then I did a couple of different bikepacking setups on the Jake, trying to find a way to setup all the bags in a comfortable way, but both tests were a complete failure. Either I had problems with the bags rubbing my legs or I found the setup not comfortable in some other ways.
Finally, Álvaro (whom I met in the 200 brevet) shared some pics of his setup and I did spot there a nice-and-slim frame bag from decathlon, which I bought and fit just perfect with my setup, which was basically that frame bag, a medium-size saddlebag and a large tools bottle where I stuffed all the food and tools I'd need. I trusted the weather forecast, so I decided not to take any really warm clothes with me (which helped reducing the amount of bulky stuff). I also decided to bring only one water bottle, trusting it would be enough to refill that one during the stops at the control points.
The bike was ready, I had all the things I'd need for it and I was definetely ready for it
The start time of the 300 was scheduled for 06:00, with the time window for getting the brevet cards between 05:30 and 05:45. That meant that leaving right away from home, like I did for the 200, was not an option. Not unless I wanted to do 300km on the bike without any sleep.
I made a reservation for a room in a village near the starting point, and on Friday (21st april) I packed all my stuff + dolo's and lara's and we left for Coruña together. I took them to the train station in Coruña, where they got into a train on direction to Vilagarcia de Arousa.
The train left and so did I, in direction to Santa Cristina. I arrived, parked the car and moved the things into the small hotel room (they were ok with me putting the bike into my room). I went for a short walk by the beach and then for an early dinner of pasta (carbonara) and an excellent dessert (chocolate+cookies cake with a big ball of vanilla ice cream on top). I was totally stuffed, but I wanted a big dinner, leaving so early in the morning I was not sure I was going to be able to have any breakfast...
I got back to the hotel after another short walk and I double checked all my things before going to bed. I charged the front light, the powerbank, the gopro (even if in the end I decided not to take it with me for the brevet). Finally I prepared a couple of sandwiches made out of multi-grain bread and honey.
With everything ready I did lay down on the bed and almost instantly I fell asleep.
I woke up around 04:30, too excited to be able to sleep anymore. I had a quick shower to help fully waking up and then I got dressed and put all my stuff back in the car (including setting up the bike rack again and put the Jake on it). At 05:10 I was already at the starting point, what a difference with the 200! Only another car was there, one of the guys that organized the brevet was unpacking his bike, and so did I. It was pitch black at that time and I was really excited, specially thinking about start riding in the middle of the night.
Once I was ready, I went to get my brevet card while other cyclists started to arrive. Some of them came by car, but lots of them came right away on the bike. When I was getting my card, I did recognize some faces, people I met during the 200, including Álvaro. We greet each other, really happy of meeting again in a brevet. He told me he tried the 300 in 2016, but he had to turn back at one point and did "only" around 150km that day - "No worries, today we will finish it!" - I told him, trying to cheer him up - "We will see" - was his short reply.
Everybody got back to the parking lot, where we took a picture of all the randonneurs together, just before the start. Everything was excitement, smiles and jokes at that moment. I recall we all were really happy, because even so early it was not cold at all. A couple of the older guys were saying that it was already smelling like summer.
We turned the front lights on and off we were, into the night, into a full day of cycling and fun. And, man, this time I was in the middle of the big group from the start! I was really happy about that. Riding in such a group meant that I could have done it even without any front light at all.
The group did stay together for quite some time. We left Coruña on a main road, and soon we moved into smaller roads, where the group had to stretch a bit but kept together somehow. The sky was beautiful, cloudless, full of stars and the moon... a couple of days before new moon, thin but shining so bright on a yellow-orange glow that I could not stop looking at it.
After some ups and downs we went down for a while and we crossed the town of Betanzos. It was still night and the town was quiet, nobody on the streets and not even a café opened. We passed through the old parts of town, crossing a couple of old bridges under the dim yellow light of old street lights. Then I had been riding in the dark for near 50 minutes already, but I was in the group, the pack, and I felt like if I was riding in mid-day, having forgotten the absence of day light almost completely.
We left Betanzos and we started the first real climb of the route, going up towards the first control point at Irixoa. It had been really warm so far (considering at what time we had started) and you can imagine it got a little bit warmer as soon as things started to go up. I opened the zip on the light jacket, letting the fresh air of the morning passed through it and cool me down.
The group started to spread. I was in the leading part of it and I had noticed one rider that was going much faster than us, then stopping to wait for us, then restarting, stopping again... At one point he and a couple more guys just flew away. We were not a big group anymore and I was riding with Álvaro and some more people, but it was him, me and another cyclist riding together to Irixoa. We had a good pace and we talked a lot about riding at night.
And the sunrise happened, and it was one of the nicest experiences I've ever had in my life. After one hour and a half riding in (almost) complete darkness, we were going up on a small road with a good view on our right side (valley below, hills and more hills on the distance) when the sky started to change colours, a wide variety of colors, and then the sun was there, bathing us, warming us even a bit more.
It was day when we got to the control point at Irixoa, and there we had the coldest moment we would have in the whole day. It was like if the village was isolated from the rest of the world, having its own weather and temperature, much colder than the rest of it (like 10C less than a few kms before). So, it was perfect timing for a coffee stop. This wasn't the flood of cyclists we made in Ponteceso, in the first stop of the 200 (we were a lot more people then) but even so the waiter had to wake up fully to serve us all the hot drinks we ordered. We got our cards stamped and we tried to make it a short stop, matching it with the other guys we have been riding with.
Also, we were lucky and we kept on the good company of the guy who had been riding with us so far (a veteran, who later told us about the time when he did Paris-Brest-Paris and a bunch of other cool stories).
We left Irixoa as few small groups. I was riding with Álvaro and that veteran rider, with some more people behind us, when we starting going a bit up on a small hill. I switched the chain to the small chainring and clack!, the chain got loose. "Dammit!" - I thought - "Not here, not now!". I quickly put the bike upside down and put the chain back in place, cutting one of my fingers in the process (I didn't realise about that until later though, when we were near Mondoñedo). I was fast fixing the problem and I pushed it a bit afterwards, and in no time I was back with the guys.
Our pace was good and soon we joined other riders and the group got bigger... and faster. Three of the guys took the lead and started pulling us real fast through the next 20 or 30 kms. I didn't need to look at the garmin to know we were going fast, I just noticed it had been a while since the last time anybody had said anything!
The day started sunny, cloudless, but at one point between Irixoa and Vilalba we found some fog. Suddendly the ride got a magic atmosphere, I recall some of the really nice pictures I've seen on the Internet from people riding brevets, some of them cutting through fog like we were doing. "Too bad I did not take the GoPro with me" - I thought, but luckily Álvaro has his camera with him...
The fog did not last for long and by the time we arrived in Vilalba we were under a blue and sunny sky again. At the entrance of Vilalba we found some tough ramps, short but with a high percentage, and the group got stretched again and finally broke into smaller groups, pairs and trios. I know those roads but I knew Álvaro didn't, so I waited for him on a couple of turns, just in case. This meant loosing the leading group a couple of times and then joining them back again a bit later.
On the road from Vilalba to Abadin the bigger group got together again. The same 3 riders pulling us all on that rollercoaster of ups and downs all the way to A Xesta, which is a big downhill we had ahead of us before the next stop in Mondoñedo.
And there, on that downhill, something really weird happened.
The older riders were on the leading group and I did stop to wait for Álvaro, as he wanted to stop to get some water. When he arrived where I was waiting for him, we resumed the ride and we met some other riders, making another small group of maybe 6 or 7 people. We rode together the start of the downhill, until it became really steep. There everybody did lay down on the bike, looking for an aerodynamic position, and soon nobody could pedal anymore (as we were going really fast). With nobody pedaling, everybody on the drops and laying on their bikes... I noticed how everybody else was way faster than me. It was as if I was pulling the brakes while they were still pedaling! In less than a minute I was all alone on the road.
"W T F" - I thought - "This can not be true!"
I went all the way down and took the turn to Mondoñedo, but no trace of the group. I was completely freaked out. Anyway, I got to Mondoñedo and took the entrance to the old part of the village and soon I found the veterans, who had stop in a small café to stamp the brevet cards and have some drinks and something to eat.
I also got the card stamped there and I drank a coke (no coffee, as it was too hot for that already). I didn't eat anything there, I was ok and there was only junk food, so I decided to skip it. When I was chatting with some guys and drinking my coke, Álvaro appeared at the door. He had been looking around for me and he did spot the Jake outside the café. He told me then that they were going so fast that they missed the turn to Mondoñedo, so they had to do a big detour and got into the village from a different point, having to climb all the extra downhill they had done before. Crazy.
He got his card stamped too and we took some pics outside before resuming the ride. Next stop: Viveiro, already on the coast.
Álvaro and me left mondoñedo with the company of another 3 cyclists, Abel, Álvaro (yeah, another one!) and David. It turned out we had met them already in the 200, when we rode together for some time during the last 50km of that brevet. Really nice people, we created a small group of 5 cyclists that kept together all the way to the end of the brevet.
I took the lead then. I knew those roads quite well, and I even rode on them one week before the brevet (as I was spending some days there during Easter). After a while we started going up towards Ferreira do Valadouro. It was one of those long-and-steady climbs, not really hard, but warm. By that time the sun was hitting us hard. The sky was cloudless and there wasn't much protection/shade on that road. Soon I had to remove the arm warmers and a bit after that I had to open the zip on my jersey. "I should put on some sunscreen" - I thought, but I had forgotten to do it in Mondoñedo, and I was not going to stop to do it then (and then I forgot in the next stops anyway).
Before Ferreira we lost Álvaro (águila ;-D). He did a stop to remove some clothes too and he had not catched up with us yet. Ferreira is a bit tricky if it is the first time you pass by it, you get into the main street just to find out that at one point the street becomes a one-way street and you can't keep going on it, so you have to take a turn and then another couple of turns before keep going on towards Viveiro. As I knew it already, I asked the guys to stop for a moment and wait for him. There was a street market and we did stop in the middle of it (luckily it wasn't too crowded at that moment).
With the group assembled again we resumed the ride, it was time to do the second real climb of the day, all the way up to Vilacampa. This was one of the parts I enjoyed a lot. A beautiful 5-6 km climb on a secondary road that twisted itself all the way up. We had the protection of the trees, giving us some nice shade, but we have also some open parts with good views of the valleys and hills around us. We spot the usual livestock (cows, sheep, donkeys...) and some old stone houses here and there.
I started the climb fresh, confident. I did that climb a couple of times before, it is not that hard... well, not unless you have 130 km already on your legs. David was fresh also, so the two of us got ahead of the others at the beginning. Álvaro (Águila) pushed it a bit and got closer (taking some pics of us meanwhile) and we kept on together while Abel and the other Álvaro did stay behind.
At some point after the middle of the climb my legs started to feel a bit heavier. It was a point where we did not have much shade and the sun was hitting hard... and I was running out of water. I did recall that near the end of the climb there was a fountain and so I kept on pedaling, with the idea of fresh water from that fountain sticked to my mind.
There was such a fountain indeed, and we did stop there for a moment to refill the bottles, wait for Abel and Álvaro and gather some breath.
While we were there, a car came by and stopped there. A guy came out of the car, opened the trunk and started to produce 5-liter bottles from it. We asked him if the water was good there and so we started chatting. He asked us if we were coming from Burela or Ribadeo (towns located on the coast too) and when we told him we were coming from A Coruña, he did not believe it. We told him about the brevet and what was still ahead of us and he replied with a "Youngsters... you are crazy, if I'd do 20 km on a bicycle I'd be dead!".
We left the fountain and resumed the ride, a few more meters going up and then we started the long (and craziest) descent towards the coast. I had told them that there was a fast descent after Vilacampa, but the first couple of km is not really that steep, and soon I heard some comments like "man, is this the fast descent?" - "c'mon! this is not even a real descent".
Then the real descent began and everything became crazy. Abel and specially Álvaro started pushing like crazy, the rest of us just tried to follow. And for me that was way tougher than the climb! That road is sneaky, with some really hard turns, some almost 360º/U-turn like. There are some parts of the road with big potholes and loose stones. But it is also beautiful, going down you have some open views of valleys, hills and at the end you can even see a bit of the coast.
My arms were complaining loudly when we finished it. Too much tension on them during the whole thing. Also, all the focusing on the road surface (trying not to step on a pothole or big stone) drained lots of energy too, so I felt a bit tired. Viveiro was close though, just a matter of minutes before the next control point.
We arrived in Viveiro a bit later and we took the road towards the old part of town, leaving the road we would have to take to keep on route to our left. We tried to spot a place for lunch for a while, but we did not find anything so we decided to stop for a moment and ask. We asked for a place to eat some pasta and we got some recommendations on some places near Praia de Covas, which was on the direction of our route, so there we went.
While looking for one of the recommended places, someone did spot a Pizza Tutto (one of those italian food franchises) which seemed to be empty. It seemed like a nice place for our stop, as it was located by an alley, with a table by a biiiig window from where we could see the alley. We parked the bikes by that window and got inside, asking if we could get some food.
It would have been better to move on to one of the recommended places.
They say we could sit wherever we prefer. The restaurant was indeed empty, except for the cook, the boss and one of those pizza (scooter) deliverers. As soon as we sat down we noticed something was happening there. It seemed as if something went wrong before we got in and they were arguing about something. The boss came to ask what we would like for drinks and food and we ordered pasta (penne) for everybody with a tuna fish + tomato sauce mix. We ask her if he could put the sauce in a separate bowl, so we could use as much as we would like, instead of adding it already to everybody's dish. She agreed and minutes later she came back with our drinks. Everything quite "normal" so far, but then the cook and the pizza deliverer started to argue a bit more. The boss came into it too, shouting. In a matter of minutes the whole thing was as if it was part of one of those Marx Brothers movies. There was shouting, threats, insults and a couple of times I thought the cook was going to hit the other guy. Obiously all that happened instead of the preparation of our lunch.
We had been there for more than half an hour already when I got anxious and a bit angry. I thought about going there and say something. Not that we were in a hurry, but wasting our time like that... no good. I woke up and went to the door, then to the bikes, then I got inside and stood there, looking at them. I sat again and the cook appeared to tell us he was sorry and that he was cooking some more pasta.
Finally we got our lunch, which was not super-tasty, but good enough (and we were damned hungry at that point). No dessert and (sadly for Álvaro) no coffee neither, but at least we got another stamp on our brevet cards (really a bad choice we made there for the lunch stop).
With our bellies full of pasta, tuna fish and tomato sauce we left Viveiro. 50 more kms ahead until the next stop in Cariño. I remember someone said when we were getting on the bikes "And now take it easy dammit, it will take some time for my stomach to digest the food, don't want to throw up in a couple of kilometers!". We made some jokes, laughed and started pedaling. We were supposed to take it easy, but a few kms after I noticed the two Álvaros were far behind David, Abel and me.
I kept up with Abel and David for a while and suddendly two other riders passed us. One of them was standing on the bike and he kept like this while they were passing us... and then some more, and some more... and... I had him on sight for a few more kms (5? 7? not sure) and he did stand on the bike all that time without touching the saddle not even once!
A bit later Abel and David were about to drop me, I pushed it a bit to not let them go, but on the next small hill I tried to move the chain from the big ring to the small one... clack!! the chain got loose again. I quickly put it back in place, but it was too late to catch the guys and I wasn't going to push it too hard, there was still a lot to ride for the day.
And so I found myself riding alone, completely alone. and I rode alone for something like 30km or so. Not the best thing that can happen to you in the middle of a brevet, but nothing that bad neither. I tried to find my pace and I tried not to think too much on anything - "just enjoy the ride" - I told myself. Well, it did not work, and my mind started to think about both Álvaros first, hoping everything was ok with them, then about the distance left for the next control, finally about how tired I was getting. Then I had a short break on all my thinking, when an asshole riding one of those Harley-Davidson-like motorbikes passed too close to me, really really too close, making the engine roar like a dinosaur. Later Abel and David told me the bastard passed made the same thing when passing them.
After ridden like 140km I had the same feeling I have had in the 200. It was like if I was slowly running out of steam. Every little climb was mining my will and the fact that the last 8-9 kms to cariño where on a road we were going to ride back after the stop, did not help at all. On each descent, instead of enjoy some rest all I could do was think that I was going to have to climb that up when coming back. Anyway, I managed to get to Cariño and after entering the village I started looking around, trying to find where the guys had stopped. That was easy, as everybody was sitting outside a café on a big terrace.
I parked the bike along all the other bikes and started waving at people and saying hello. "Hey! you arrived! How was it so far?" - one of the veterans asked - "Fine, just fine, nice ride so far, I'm glad I've arrived here" - I replied. It was damned hot so I got inside, asked for the stamp on my brevet card and ordered a 1.5L bottle of water and a chocolate-cookies-vanilla ice cream. Then I went outside and looked for a place to seat and rest a bit.
A few minutes later, Álvaro and Álvaro arrived. I felt relieved, seeing they were ok. They sat down on our table and we talked a bit about our own experiences for the last few kms. We all felt tired and the idea of having to ride 100km more was a bit... challenging.
Then people started packing up, one last visit to the toilet and ready to go. The veterans left first, then some more people, then our little group-of-5 left Cariño, leaving behind some people still at the café. We even crossed some riders that were arriving in Cariño when we were leaving.
It seemed as the whole group were feeling much better after that stop. I definetely was much much better. I don't know if it was because of the rest in Cariño, the ice cream, being again in the group or a combination of all those together. Whatever, we got on a good pace again, talking about the next climb we were ahead, just after leaving the road to Cariño and taking the one towards Fene (next stop) and Ferrol.
I think at some point the energy from the pasta kicked in, and then I felt incredibly good and fresh. Soon I found myself leading the group. We were chatting and making fun and jokes again.
We passed other riders (including the recumbent bike) and we kept on and on. I have really good memories of that part. It was a nice road, we were riding on a nice pace and we had some good views of the sea. We were really lucky that the weather was soooo nice. For a couple of moments I thought how hard it would have been on a usual windy day there, with strong wind coming in from the sea and nothing to get cover/shelter from it.
We arrived in Fene with the sensation that we were almost there. "c'mon! only 40 kms to go!" - someone said. We did stop at a café and again we sat down on the terrace. It was 20:03 and my calculations said we would have day light until 21:45, more or less, and we still had 40km with two steep climbs ahead. We got the cards stamped and ordered some drinks, then we asked the waiter if he has sandwiches or anything we could eat. He said he had no sandwiches, but offered to prepare us a tortilla... so tempting... and he said it would take less than ten minutes, so we couldn't resist the offer and said yes to it. Wise choice, really wise choice.
While eating that wonderful tortilla we talked about what we were going to find on our way back to Coruña. All of them knew those roads, as they already rode on them before, and they seem to be well-known routes for cycling when you live in Coruña. They all agree that there were two steep climbs to be done, and that the first one (just after Fene) was the hardest.
We left Fene in a good mood. We were feeling good before arriving and the extra rest + food helped powering us up even more. We started the climb and I quickly notice I was faster than them. I did hesitate for a moment, but I was on a very comfortable pace and I did not slow down. I arrived to the top with quite some distance on them and I started going down - "they will be faster than me on the downhill anyway" - I thought. And indeed they were. They were faster and I did stop for a moment in a turn, confused by the line on my garmin, when I heard Álvaro shouting "straight!!!" while passing me like a motorbike.
The other guys passed fast and I had to push it a bit on the way down to catch them up at the bridge that is the entrance to Pontedeume. After the bridge there was a roundabout and someone shouted - "Turn left!" - I looked at the route in my garmin and it was saying clearly to turn right, so I shouted back - "the track goes to the right!!" - and Abel shouted back - "Bastards!!" - "Why?" - I replied, but no need for an answer, I found out real fast.
Yeah, after 270-280km on the bike, the route had this little surprise waiting for us there. It took us through Pontedeume, on a paved road with a very steep part. My ass was hurting, my arms were hurting, the rear wheel slipped 3 or 4 times when I did stand on the bike to go up the steeper part... but the worse thing of it was, no doubt, that I was scared like hell of having a flat there. The idea of having a flat so close to the end of it, when the sun was setting and it would be dark soon... that was terrible.
Luckily everything went just ok, we passed that paved road and ended in a lovely little road with nice views (again) of the coast. By then we had started already to put on more clothes (the fluor light jacket and the arm warmers in my case). The sun was down already, but we still have some day light.
When we were crossing Miño I started to feel tired. It was also starting to get darker and darker, and that was not helping me. I got anxious. The group got split. Abel, David and Álvaro going faster, then me, finally Álvaro a bit behind me. Then he passed me, then I passed him, finally we got together again.
Then it was night already. I turned on the front light and so did the rest of group. I had already my fluor jacket on, which has some good reflective stuff, but we noticed Álvaro and Abel hadn't put his reflective vests on. They did a short stop to put them on and told us to keep on, that they would catch up later. And so we did. By then we weren't talking that much. Me, I was just trying to focus on the road in the dark and tried not to think too much on that anxiety I was feeling.
And then David shouted
"Beware of the hunchback!!!"
"WT.." - I thought, when I noticed something passing by me real fast... it was Abel. As he had a backpack with him, he thought it would be better to put his vest over it, otherwise the backpack would make the reflective parts useless, not visible at all. And he damned look like The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I laughed out loud. Crazy guys.
Thing is, he pushed like crazy there, and his two friends chased him like crazy. then Álvaro joined the pursue... and I thought they all were f**** crazy doing something like that... but I tried to keep up.
We were together again before the last climb, from Miño and passing by Pedrido. And I was glad I was not alone there. The climb wasn't that hard, but I was pretty dead by then. I was tired, and nervous. There were lots of traffic, the only lights around were our front lights and the cars' lights and the space we had on the road, out of the main lanes was really small and all covered with high grass and plants coming from outside the road.
I had a very bad moment then. I was following them blindly, trusting them and the fact that they know that road well. Álvaro (águila) did stay with me almost all the way up, talking to me and supporting me. I was really grateful of that.
After what looked like an eternity, we were back on the main road from where we left Coruña a few hours ago. It started to go down and the guys were faster again, so I was alone again. In complete darkness, with lots of traffic.
F U N
A bit later I joined them again at the last turn we had to take, from that main road into the smaller road that took us back to the starting point of the brevet.
I was so happy when I realized we were a couple of roundabouts from the end. Everybody was happy. Abel was riding in front of me and he let go of the handlebar and started raising his arms, wide open. Man, we had finished a 300 km brevet, how awesome is that?
We arrived at the starting point, were we found some of the people we have ridden with during different parts of the brevet. We heard congratulations, we said the same things. We put the time on our brevet cards (no stamp there) and we put them in the small suitcase.
We took some pictures, including one of our little group-of-5, together:
After that it was time to pack up and put everything back into the car. I still had to drive all the way from A Coruña to vilagarcia (a bit more than one hour and a half). I waved and said goodbye to everybody, specially to Álvaro, telling him we would meet soon... for the 400!
For the record, this is the list of things I took with me for the 300:
- shimano rt-82 shoes
- btwin socks
- CC ribeiras short pants
- decathlon thin, short sleeve base layer
- CC ribeiras short sleeve jersey
- castelli arm warmers
- fluor light jacket/windbreaker + removable sleeves
- btwin fingerless gloves
- spiuk binomial glasses
- catlike tako helmet
- btwin thin scarf
- garmin 520 + heart rate sensor+strap
- infini super lava 300 front light
- cateye rear light
- powerbank (anker 10k mah) + usb cable
- 2 spare tubes
- patches, glue, etc
- sks tom multitool (+2 chain pins)
- 2 pro tire removal levers
- cleaning gloves
- 1 bottle (650ml) of water
- 5 isostar bars (cereals + chocolate)
- 2 bananas
- 2 honey sandwiches
I ate the bananas and the honey sandwiches, but I didn't eat any of the cereal bars. I had no mechanical problems on the bike (no flats, nothing broken), except for the 2 times the chain got loose, so in the end I didn't have to use any of the spares I took with me.
The anker power bank worked really well, both to charge the garmin while riding and to charge the front light while we were having lunch. Taking about that light, it was the first time I used it and it was more than enough to see even in complete darkness. It is a powerful little light that weights nothing and that you can charge while using it (from a powerbank, for example) so it is handy. A bit overpriced (40-something eur), but good enough.
Now, if only I could go and give the 400 a try...